19 Wherefore it shall come to pass, that the Lord God will deliver again the book and the words thereof to him that is not learned; and the man that is not learned shall say: I am not learned.
20 Then shall the Lord God say unto him: The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them, and I am able to do mine own work; wherefore thou shalt read the words which I shall give unto thee.
(2 Nephi 27:19-20)
Faith in Jesus Christ includes confidence that He can use our efforts to fulfill His purposes. We might believe in God but doubt our own abilities. If so, we need to increase our faith until we are willing to do our part, believing that God’s power is sufficient to compensate for our weaknesses.
In the King James Version of the Bible, there is a brief passage about an educated man refusing to read a book because it’s sealed, and an uneducated man expressing doubt that he can read it because of his lack of education. (See Isaiah 29:11-12.) In Nephi’s telling of that story, we get more details: the learned man asks that the book be brought to him, and when he hears that part of it is sealed, he says, “I cannot read it” (2 Nephi 27:15-18). Joseph Smith recognized a literal fulfillment of that prophecy in Martin Harris’s interaction with a professor named Charles Anthon, to whom he showed part of the translation of the Book of Mormon (Joseph Smith—History 1:64-65).
But there is a second half of the story: the book is given back to the unlearned man, who says, “I am not learned.” In other words, “I can’t do this. I don’t have enough training, knowledge, and experience.” God responds, “The learned shall not read them, for they have rejected them.” People like Professor Charles Anthon, who seem more qualified to fulfill this assignment, are so confident in their own abilities that they are unwilling to receive direction from God. Only an unlearned person who knows He needs to rely on the Lord can actually do this. And then, the Lord reassures his uneducated servant by saying, “I am able to do mine own work.”
As Elder Neal L. Anderson has reminded us, these words of assurance were directed not only to Joseph Smith but also to you and me:
Brothers and sisters, seeing and believing the Lord’s miracles in establishing His kingdom on earth can help us see and believe that the Lord’s hand is at work in our own lives as well.
The Lord declared, “I am able to do mine own work.” We each try to do our part, but He is the grand architect…. As we are spiritually awake and alert, we see His hand across the world and we see His hand in our own personal lives (“Thy Kingdom Come,” General Conference, April 2015).
Today I will watch for the hand of the Lord in my life. I will have faith that God, who has all power, can use my humble efforts to accomplish great things. I will follow the example of the unlearned man, who may have doubted his abilities but who ultimately trusted that the Lord would help him accomplish the work he had been given.